Sunday, November 18, 2012

Why AAPIs Don't Get Respect In The World Of Politics

AAPIs are getting unprecedented attention in this election cycle.

Unlike Latino and African American communities, AAPI were not expected to break for Pres. Obama in decisive numbers.  With Gov. Romney winning with voters who make over $100,000/year and AAPIs having super high households incomes, many pundits expected the AAPI community to naturally trend for the pro-business anti-tax GOP candidate.  Instead, AAPIs broke for Pres. Obama by a whopping 73% to 26% in national exit polls.

Unfortunately, the AAPI community has squandered an opportunity to become politically relevant by making ridiculously flawed and misleading statements regarding the AAPI vote.  The biggest and most frequent violation has been the claim that political parties and candidates are ignoring AAPI voters.  This claim is based on the flawed interpretation of AAPI voter response to a legitimate polling question that asks if the voter has been contacted by a political party or candidate.

Here is the quote from the AAJC/APIAVote/AIA poll:

"AAPIs identified overwhelmingly as Democrats in the poll - more than three times more than Republican - but less than a third were contacted by the Democratic Party in the last two years, while 37 percent of Republicans said they heard a great deal from their party over the same period. Independents barely heard from either party even though they are usually prime targets."

I'm not saying that the question is not valid or that the respondents are intentionally lying.  What I am saying is that the interpretation of this data is wrong and the perpetuation of it reveals that AAPIs have a severe lack of political sophistication.  Here's why:

1) Sometimes what a respondent thinks and what actually is fact can be two entirely different things.  For example, the California Labor Federation conducted extensive polling and focus group research (in English and in-language) on AAPI voters in 2010 that indicated that
a majority of AAPI voters had not seen a Meg Whitman ad.  Anyone living in California would know that not seeing a Whitman ad was virtually impossible considering Whitman spent nearly $150 million on television, print, internet and direct mail voter contact.  What probably happened is that AAPI voters DID see her ads and then forgot about it.  People have gotten good at tuning out sensory overload with all the data coming at us in today's information heavy new media environment.  AAPIs who say they haven't been contacted by a political party or a candidate could (and most likely) just have forgotten or underestimated the frequency of contact.

2) Political parties typically limit contact to members of their parties.  Voters are Democrats, Republicans, independents, etc. for a reason.  If I'm a Republican, a call from the Democratic Party will (A) have no effect on my decision or (B) piss me off.  If I'm an independent (or no party preference) voter, I actively decided to not affiliate with either major party and probably would not be persuaded to vote for a candidate because the parties that I eschewed had called on his or her behalf.  In California, 36% of AAPI voters are registered as Democrats.  At best, only 36% of California's AAPIs would have been contacted by the Democratic Party (also, if at all, the Democratic Party would most likely be contacting only high-propensity voters...making that percentage even smaller).

3) All states and localities are not equal.  Extensive ethnic voter data is available in California.  In contrast, similar ethnic voter data is not easily available in Nevada.  As such, the ability for campaigns to target AAPI voters nationally is dependent and limited by the availability of accurate voter data that includes ethnic breakdowns.  When AAPI voters are not contacted in states like Nevada, it may just be a function of available and affordable data.  I would add that Pres. Obama had a robust AAPI voter outreach effort in both the Nevada and Virginia battlegrounds that was made possible by a concerted effort by the campaign to collect and build their own
voter file and dedicate a senior staff position to the AAPI vote.

Why does this matter?

1) Saying that political parties and candidates don't care about reaching AAPI voters is patently incorrect and makes us look politically inexperienced, out-of-touch or just plain stupid
(even though I'm a Democrat, I really don't believe that Republicans care any less about reaching AAPI voters...the GOP is just not as good at it and their ideological platform is less inviting to immigrants).

2) Saying that political parties and candidates don't care about reaching AAPI voters is an insult to the senior level AAPIs who have been hired by local, state and national campaigns as part of their ethnic voter outreach strategy.  The erroneous claim that AAPIs are being ignored diminishes the significance of these groundbreaking campaign positions and the accomplishments of the AAPIs who have held those positions.

Saying that political parties and candidates don't care about reaching AAPI voters implies that mail contact or a phone call is more important than what the candidate is actually doing for the community.  Why isn't more space on press releases dedicated to connecting President Obama's extensive AAPI accomplishments during his first term to the stunning landslide support by AAPI voters on Election Day? 

4) Whining doesn't make you relevant.  It just makes you a whiner.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

AAPIs Make Historic Gains on Election Day

Historic day for AAPIs throughout the nation.  In California, the API Caucus held their position as the 2nd largest ethnic caucus in the state legislature with eleven members by winning 4 seats - Rob Bonta (AD18), Phil Ting (AD19), Ed Chau (AD49), and Al Muratsuchi (AD66).  Only two of these seats were previously held by AAPIs.  The API Caucus lost one targeted race in AD20 with Dr. Jennifer Ong who was new to campaigning but has a bright political future.

The following four State Assembly members won re-election: Mariko Yamada (AD4), Richard Pan (AD9), Paul Fong (AD28), and Das Williams (AD37).  The following state senators were not up for re-election: Ted Lieu, Carol Liu, Leland Yee.

The Asian American Small Business PAC spent in excess of $100,000 in direct donations and independent expenditures this cycle to support many of the candidates that won.  AASB PAC sponsored IEs in support of Bonta, Ting, Ong, Chau, Muratsuchi, and Fong.  The only race AASB PAC narrowly lost was in AD20 with Dr. Jennifer Ong.  Mail and consulting for these races were provided by Ron Wong at Imprenta Communications and Chris Norem Consulting.

Special notes:  San Francisco Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting weathered a $500,000 plus negative campaign onslaught from the wealthy Stanford legacy alum and Goldman Sachs scion of a US Supreme Court justice (Stephen Breyer) Michael Breyer to hold onto San Francisco's AAPI legislative seat.  Progressive AAPIs, environmentalists and animal advocates rallied behind Assemblyman Paul Fong when shark fin industry special interests launched a late attack on him for authoring the bill to ban shark fin in California. Lastly, Democrat Ed Chau fought off Republican millionaire and a million dollar attack campaign by JOBSPAC with nearly $100,000 from oil companies to hold the only majority AAPI legislative seat in California.

Big gains were made on the federal level with historic wins in Hawaii, California and New York.  U.S. Representative Mazie Hirono will now be U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono - the first Asian American woman to serve in the United States Senate.  Tulsi Gabbard, who will be the first Hindu (she's Pacific Islander) will be replacing Hirono in the House of Representatives.  Mark Takano will be the first LGBT AAPI to serve in Congress from Riverside, California and Grace Meng will be the first Chinese American woman to represent New York in Congress.

Decorated war hero Tammy Duckworth won a congressional seat in Illinois.

In one of the most epic battles in the nation, Dr. Ami Bera defeated U.S. Rep. Dan Lungren in Sacramento, California.

Republican Ricky Gill's hard fought race in California's central valley to unseat Rep. Jerry McNerney was unsuccessful.  Democratic  AAPI candidates Nate Shinagawa (NY), Jay Chen (CA), Sukhee Kang (CA), Otto Lee (CA), and Manan Trivedi (PA) were also unsuccessful.

The returning AAPI members of Congress include: U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye and U.S. Representatives Judy Chu (CA), Doris Matsui (CA), Mike Honda (CA), Bobby Scott (VA), Eni Faleomavaega (American Samoa), Gregorio Sablan (Northern Marianas), and Colleen Hanabusa (HI).

In her first cycle as chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), Rep. Judy Chu sends a strong message to the political world with these election day victories.

According to CCN exit polls, AAPIs broke 73-26 in favor of re-electing President Barack Obama.  A big victory for Obama's AAPI Vote Director Alissa Ko and rising political star in Democratic Party politics.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

V3 Conference Panel on Politics

Had a great time talking about blogging and politics at AAJA's V3 Conference in Los cool to meet MSNBC anchor Richard Lui!

The America Worth Fighting For

(This was originally posted on my Facebook page, but I thought I'd share...)

It has been a marathon day trip that involved speaking at 2 conferences -one in OC and one in LA and I was anxious to get home.

The day was over and I had gotten a coveted aisle seat in the front with an empty seat in between me and the window seat passenger.

Turns out that there was a mom with child and they needed a pair of seats, so I volunteered to give mine up...I was a bit annoyed at the sacrifice, but it seemed the right thing to do if for nothing else but to get us in the air and home.

I squeezed into a middle seat with 2 broad shouldered gentlemen who were probably as annoyed at me being in the middle as I was annoyed to be in the middle...but we all made the best of it.

The elderly man to my right struck up a conversation about the beautiful sunset as we took off and was very chatty.

He was on his way home from Utah, after visiting his brother. He told me about some of his struggles and the faltering health of his wife, as well as his daughter and unemployed son-in-law whose unemployment benefits just expired.

Midway through struggling to politely listen, I realized how amazing that this 78-year old gentleman - despite all of his challenges - still enjoyed the sunset, innocently flirted with the middle-aged flight attendant, and expressed his immense gratitude about his life and being able to live in an affordable assisted living facility with the help of Medicare.

He talked about how Blacks and Orientals all got along at his facility and how much he enjoyed being there. They had activities every night and happy hour on Fridays.

I couldn't help but think to myself that this is the America that we are fighting for. For my chatty seatmate, his life wasn't about ideological or partisan was about living a dignified and grateful life...appreciating the simple kindnesses each day brings us.

I deplaned the flight thinking how much I love this country because the America I know is as grateful as it is great and as kind as it is courageous.

I thought giving up my seat was a turns out I couldn't have been more wrong.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Grace Meng in SF

In San Francisco supporting the 1st Chinese American in NY to be elected to serve in Congress - Grace Meng

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

ICYMI: Me vs. Shawn Steel (no, he's not Asian) on AAPI voters interview on AAPI voters and the November Election

Coolies and Tiger Moms for Mitt

If stereotypes won elections, then Mitt Romney would get 100% of America’s Asian Pacific vote.

2012 marks unprecedented media coverage of the potential impact of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) voters on state and federal election in November.  Unfortunately, many of the articles fortify misleading stereotypes of AAPIs and reveal a disturbing failure of AAPI progressives to be politically relevant.

Media heavy hitters including PBS, CNN, Politico, Current TV, the Washington Post, and the National Journal have recently covered the growing AAPI community as the next political game changer in this election cycle.   
Invariably, these stories include quotes from AAPIs saying that Romney’s business experience and family values best reflect the priorities of AAPI voters.   
Quotes like “What they (AAPIs) care about is economic opportunity, fiscal responsibility; they want government to be as accountable as they were, as individually responsible as they were” stated by Republican congressional candidate Ricky Gill in The Hill and “He will give us pro-business growth policies to help us achieve our American dream,” stated by businessperson Mike Jing in Politico  epitomize the media preference for the pro-business stereotype of AAPIs.  Inclusion of these quotes in major media outlets reinforces a societal misconception that AAPIs are conservative leaning model minorities.

Research points out a significantly different picture of AAPIs.   
Comprehensive polling and surveys conducted by the California League of Conservation Voters, APIAVote, and PEW all paint a much more progressive picture of AAPIs.  For example, according to a recent California League of Conservation Voters poll, more AAPI voters consider themselves “environmentalists” than the general public.  
In the poll commissioned by APIAVote and conducted by the well-respected firm of Lake Research Partners, AAPIs found Pres. Obama more favorable (73%) than Gov. Romeny (27%).  
In the nearly 300 page report by PEW, AAPI opinions on issues like big government, gay marriage, and abortion shatter the image of AAPIs painted by the GOP and echoed by the media.   
Specifically, the PEW study showed that AAPIs support activist government 55% to compared to 39% for the general public, support abortion rights 54% compared to 51% for the general public, and acceptance of homosexuality 54% compared to 37% for the general public.
In addition, Romney and the GOP have been ham-handed in their approach to AAPIs.  As far back as 2008, Romney took to demonizing Chinese in this primary campaign ad.   More recently, the  RNC has flubbed by featuring AAPI faces on their Latino website and Romney blowing off a Chinese American voter.  Add that to the Hoekstra ad debacle, and the GOP has a big AAPI problem.

As wrong as the GOP and media have been about AAPI voters, AAPI progressives have been lax in providing an alternative view.   
The quotes from the “progressive” AAPIs in the same media articles mentioned above on AAPI voting were flaccid and bellicose.   
Opportunities to point out the stereotype smashing high points of the research on AAPI perspectives on progressive issues took a back seat to quotes such as “We are a growing, influential, successful group, but we don’t have the courtship or the representation in Congress.”   
More importantly, AAPI progressives failed to stay on message and evangelize the points on why President Obama is the best choice for AAPI voters in November.  They could have easily pointed out that President Obama has appointed more AAPI judges than any other president in U.S. history, or that he appointed a record-breaking number of AAPIs to cabinet level posts in his first term, or that the President's stimulus plan provided 10,000 loans amounting to $7 billion in economic relief for AAPI small businesses to help them stay afloat amidst the turbulence of our national economic crisis.

AAPI progressives have long complained about not having a voice in the national debate of issues and priorities.  Now that they have it, they need to learn how to use it effectively.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Sen. Ted W. Lieu praises study showing foundations have increased support for minority groups by more than $38 million

July 13, 2012
04-28-11 SB 746 Ted at Podium.jpg
Greenlining Institute review shows more work must be done

LOS ANGELES – Sen. Ted W. Lieu of Torrance today praised the progress foundations have made in supporting minority groups but said more work remains to be done.

“It’s great to have nine foundations improve their show of support for ethnic and minority-led groups,” Lieu, a Democrat, said after a review of a 28-page study by the Greenlining Institute on the level of foundation support to ethnic groups. “The foundations have given more than $38 million in new donations to minority groups. Diversified philanthropy is a good thing for all communities of color but I will continue to push for continued direct dialogue between foundations and non-profits.”

Sponsored by the three-branch minority caucus of the Legislature known as the Tri Caucus, lawmakers in 2008 sought to strengthen donations to minority-led community groups.

Lieu, then an Assembly member, chaired the Asian Pacific Islander wing of the Tri Caucus and helped prompt the study to seek greater transparency among private and community-based foundations. As a result, the Foundation Coalition found common interest in working together to help California’s non-profit community broaden and deepen the impact of charitable giving.

That action followed the Institute’s 2006 Investing in a diverse democracy: Foundation Giving to Minority-Led Nonprofits, which showed that investment in minority led non-profits was “startlingly” low.  Lieu and others sought to have foundations valued at or above $250 million and headquartered in California disclose gender, racial and ethnic diversity data on an annual basis. 
Initially, the foundations opposed this legislation but eventually an agreement was reached between the authors, the leaders of the ethnic caucuses and a coalition of 10 major California foundations. The legislation was dropped when the foundations pledged to increase grant support and other resources to minority and other local groups.

Lieu was joined at Friday’s event by Sen. Curren Price of Los Angeles, chair of the Black Caucus; and Assemblymembers Steven Bradford of Los Angeles; Mike Eng of Monterey Park; Ricardo Lara of South Gate; and Holly Mitchell of Los Angeles. 

To read the study, click HERE.
For more, visit Lieu’s Web site at the address below.

Ted W. Lieu represents nearly 1 million residents of Senate District 28, which includes the cities of Carson, El Segundo, Hermosa Beach, Lomita, Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach and Torrance, as well as portions of Long Beach, Los Angeles and San Pedro. For more, visit

Thursday, June 21, 2012

What A Difference API Representation Makes...

Dueling reports about the impact of redistricting on APIs paints a stark picture about the difference that political representation makes.

In Los Angeles, Korean Americans are threatening lawsuits over the discriminatory lines drawn and approved by the Los Angeles City Council.  Los Angeles happens to have no APIs on its city council.

At the same time Japantown leaders in San Francisco are lauding the City's final maps.  The mayor and four of the eleven supervisors in the City and County of San Francisco are of API descent.

As Rep. Judy Chu is fond of saying, "if you're not at the table, then you're on the menu."

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Why I Hate API Candidates

After over 20 years of working in politics, I have come to hate my own people when it comes to campaigns.  With a few notable exceptions, here are five of the reasons why we suck at politics and why I hate most API candidates.

1) They don't understand relationships.  It's ironic that if you take any East Asian business class, they will hammer into you that the biggest factor in the success of an Asian business venture is cultivating relationships.  In fact, the Chinese have a term for it: Guanxi.  Maybe the APIs who are in politics are there because they would never make it in business.  Many of the API candidates I meet with have utterly horrible people skills and they do absolutely nothing to build relationships.  I met with one candidate that ask me to help him get support from other API electeds.  I asked him why they should support him and he replied, "because I'm Asian."  I'm all for Asian pride, but then I asked the candidate, "well, you're a rich Asian guy...did you support any of the APIs that are in office now when they were running?"  He said unashamedly that "No, it wasn't a priority for me then."  Well, no surprise - his race was not a priority for most of the APIs already in elected office.

2) They think everyone loves a good resume.  Campaigns are not like getting into grad school.  Just because you went to Harvard, Cal, USC, or Stanford doesn't mean you're going to win.  Your resume has nearly next to nothing to do with winning a race.  Campaigns are a popularity contest, not a spelling bee.  You could have the cure for cancer, but if a voter doesn't want to have a beer with you, you're not going to win on election day.

3) They think too much.  Stop thinking.  It isn't your job.  It's the job of your campaign team.  Go out there and shake hands, kiss babies, and save your neighbor from a burning building.  If you wanted to do campaign strategy, then be a campaign consultant - not a candidate.  I don't care if you can build the Enterprise Space Shuttle from scratch, you're best served by letting campaign professionals do their job.

4) They think one election success is scalable.  Just because you got to where you are doesn't mean you have what it takes to get you to where you want to go.  A lot of API local electeds get it in their head that winning a local race is as simple as winning a legislative or congressional race.  Perhaps if you won in Los Angeles or San Francisco, but not in Suburbanville, USA.  Not to say local elected officials don't matriculate up, but the smart ones run professional campaigns suited for the office they're running for.

5) They believe in strategy by committee.  It's better to go with one imperfect strategy than pursue numerous allegedly perfect strategies.  Most API candidates that I meet believe there is some magic formula for winning.  Either they waste costly amounts of time trying to ask every professional they know how to run a campaign or they decide that they will put their own personal genius to work and come up with a campaign strategy.  Neither is a good idea.  There are infinite strategies that could get you to the finish line.  Pick one and go for it.  Besides, it's not rocket science.  You win if you reach voters.  You reach voters by raising money for mail/radio/TV, targeting your mail/radio/TV, canvassing and phonebanking - period.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

DNC Invests In AAPI Bank

Democratic National Convention Committee Announces Deposit of Funds in  
Asian American-Serving Bank

CHARLOTTE – The Democratic National Convention Committee (DNCC) announced the investment of a $500,000 convention deposit into East West Bank, a community bank serving the Asian American community.  The funds were deposited in a non-interest bearing account, to help the bank expand their lending and economic development efforts across the southeast region.

With each convention, the Democratic National Convention Committee has deposited a portion of its federal grant in minority-owned banks in the city where the convention is being held.  The tradition aims to provide local business institutions and their customers with financial and public support in advance of the convention.  The DNCC also deposited funds in a North Carolina African American and Latino community bank.

“The DNCC is proud to make a third investment that will create opportunities for the Asian American community,” said DNCC CEO Steve Kerrigan.  “The convention seeks to engage all Americans and this deposit will help us achieve our goal.”

Headquartered in California, East West Bank has branches across the country.  The DNCC deposit was made at the Georgia branch, one of the closest branches to Charlotte and the Democratic National Convention.

“East West Bank appreciates the DNCC’s deposit and the opportunity to offer financial services to a wider range of customers.  We will use these funds to increase our community outreach work and expand our lending and economic development efforts,” said East West Bank’s Chairman and CEO Dominic Ng.

Congressman Mike Honda, Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee also expressed the following, “The Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community is an important part of our national fabric, and we hope all our AAPI brothers and sisters will participate in the convention this September.  This deposit is another example of the Democratic National Convention Committee’s commitment to diversity and to ensuring that the voices of all Americans are heard.”

The Democratic National Convention Committee is committed to engaging Americans of all backgrounds.  As part of an unprecedented diversity contracting policy, the convention established a goal of at least one-third aggregate spending with Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs), Women Business Enterprises (WBEs), Disability-Owned Businesses, LGBT-Owned Businesses and Veteran-Owned Businesses for its contracts and projects.

About East West Bank
East West Bank is a full-service commercial bank serving consumers and businesses.   East West Bank prides itself on being the financial bridge between the East and the West by providing uniquely tailored products, services and expertise to help Asian immigrants integrate fully into American life -- as home owners, business owners, community volunteers and philanthropists.  By fully utilizing  investments, loan products, and community service activities, East West Bank helps people help themselves and provides communities – either directly or indirectly – the resources needed for sustained progress.  The bank’s headquarters are in California, with a southeast location in Georgia where the DNCC deposit was made.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

CA Primary Update

Overall a pretty good night for AAPIs in California's June Primary...

Moving on to November State Assembly & Senate seat runoffs: Mariko Yamada (AD4), Richard Pan (AD9), Rob Bonta (AD18), Phil Ting (AD19), Jennifer Ong (AD20), Paul Fong (AD28), Das Williams (AD37), Ed Chau (AD49), Al Muratsuchi (AD66), and Carol Liu (SD25).

Of note, Phil Ting smashed son of US Supreme Court Justice Steven Breyer in San Francisco effectively dismissing any doubts caused by Ting's poor showing in the SF Mayoral race.  It appears that Chinese American voters closed ranks and came home to support the Chinese American candidate.  Bonta also performed well as the top vote getter in AD 18.

On the negative side, poor turnout numbers for Al Muratsuchi and Ed Chau should worry Democrats in AD66 and AD49, respectively.  Super PAC supported former GOP and newly minted "independent" candidate Chad Walsh came in closer than he should have to Assemblyman Paul Fong in AD28.  Non-profit executive Sid Voorakkara failed to make the runoff in San Diego's 79th Assembly District.

Legislative races too close to call at this time: Phil Tateishi (AD8), Joe Dovinh (AD72).

In Congressional races, Dr. Ami Bera, Ricky Gill, and Mark Takano are the newcomers that will challenge for a seat in November.  Incumbents Mike Honda, Judy Chu and Doris Matsui cruised to victories but will still face runoffs in November. 

Outlier Congressional races where AAPI candidates face heavy odds against winning because of the partisan make up of the district include Jay Chen in CA-39, Otto Lee in CA-22, and Sukhee Kang in CA-45.

It now appears that Fresno's first Hmong City Councilman Blong Xiong has failed to make it to the runoff in November. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Support EMERGE


Join EMERGE at The W Hotel!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

10th Anniversary
Emerge California Event

6:30pm – 8:30pm
VIP & General Reception 6:30-7:30pm
Program begins at 7:35pm
The W Hotel - 181 Third Street
San Francisco, CA 94103

Special Guest Speaker:
Democratic Leader of the
U.S. House of Representatives
for the 112th Congress
Special Guest Speaker:
Democratic Leader of the
U.S. House of Representatives
for the 112th Congress

And honoring the Emerge California
2012 Woman of the Year
Quinn Delaney
Founder & President of The Akonadi Foundation

Join the host committee today!

Presidential Level $10,000
(includes 10 tickets to the General Reception and 6 tickets
to the VIP Roundtable)

Gubernatorial Level $5,000
(includes 4 tickets to the General Reception and 4 tickets
to the VIP Roundtable)

Senatorial Level $2,500
(includes 4 ticket to the General Reception and 2 tickets to
the VIP Roundtable)

Congressional Level $1,000
(includes 2 tickets to the General Reception and 2 tickets
to the VIP Cocktail Reception)

Future Leaders Sponsor Level $250

(includes 2 tickets to the General Reception and sponsorship
of one student or young woman to attend the event)

General Tickets
City Council Level $100

(includes 1 ticket to the General Reception)

This event will sell out; reserve your spot today!


Special VIP round table discussion with Leader Pelosi and listing in the invitation for Host Committee members giving or raising $1000, $2500, $5000, or $10,000. To join the host committee sign up here. For more information contact Kimberly Ellis at (510) 986-0445 or via email at


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Who will be the Jeremy Lin of this year's political game of thrones?

2012 will be one of the most competitive elections for AAPIs in U.S. history.  In California alone, 8 AAPIs are viable candidates for open State Assembly seats and at least 3 AAPIs have the potential to be elected in Congressional seats that are not currently held by AAPIs.  Nationally, 3 AAPI women are making waves in high profile seats in Congress.

California is currently home to 11 AAPIs elected to the Legislature, 3 to the U.S. House of Representatives, and 4 constitutional officers.  4 of the AAPIs in the Legislature will be leaving office at the end of this year due to term limits (Mike Eng, Warren Furutani, Mary Hayashi, & Fiona Ma).  AAPI candidates are poised to replace 3 of the 4 departing incumbents.  Attorney and school board member Ed Chau (D) is running to replace Mike Eng in the 49th AD, Dr. Jennifer Ong (D) is running to replace Mary Hayashi in the 20th AD, and Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting (D) is running to replace Ma in the 19th AD.

In other open Assembly seats, Peter Tateishi (R) is running in the 8th AD, Torrance School Board member Al Muratsuchi (D) is running in the 66th AD, Alameda City Councilman Rob Bonta (D) is running in the 18th AD, OC Board of Education member Long Pham (R) is running in the 72nd AD, and Sid Voorakkara (D) is running in the 79th AD.  There are a number of other AAPIs running for legislative seats, but their fundraising numbers and lack of political experience make them less viable to win.

[Ad: Help elect AAPIs in California, click here]

Potential Congressional seat pick-ups for AAPIs include Dr. Ami Bera (D) in CD 7, Riverside Community College Trustee Mark Takano (D) in CD 41, and Fresno City Councilman Blong Xiong (D) in CD 21.  In addition, underdog efforts to unseat incumbent members of Congress include Hacienda La Puente School Board Trustee Jay Chen (D) in CD 39, Irvine Mayor Sukhee Kang in CD 45, and decorated Iraqi war veteran Otto Lee (D) in CD 22.

AAPIs running for re-election in California include Doris Matsui (D-CD 6), Mike Honda (D-CD 17), Judy Chu (D-CD 27), Carol Liu (D-SD 25), Mariko Yamada (D-AD 4), Dr. Richard Pan (D-AD 9), Paul Fong (D-AD 28), and Das Williams (D-AD 37).

Nationally, the hottest races for AAPIs include U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono for U.S Senate in Hawaii, Councilwoman Tulsi Gabbard for U.S House of Representatives in Hawaii, Decorated war veteran Tammy Duckworth for U.S House of Representatives in Illinois, and Assembly Member Grace Meng for U.S House of Representatives in New York.  Also, U.S. Rep. Hanson Clark will have a tough re-elect because redistricting put him into a district occupied by another sitting member of the U.S. House of Representatives.  Dr. Manan Trivedi (D) recently was added to DCCC's Red to Blue list, indicating that he will have a good chance of taking the Republican held seat in PA 6.  Connecticut legislator William Tong's race for U.S. Senate has raised a significant war chest and received some national buzz as the "Asian Obama", but key factions of the political establishment has backed the candidate who currently serves in the U.S. House of Representatives.

[Ad: What AAPI political action committee has donated over $300,000 to help elect AAPI candidates in California?  Answer: click here.]

Politics is the one of the most elite and merciless arenas of competition in the world.  AAPIs have excelled in many things, but it still seems that we haven't quite got our groove on in the world of politics.

We can claim Pres. Obama as the first AAPI president, and despite his trailblazing efforts to raise the visibility of AAPIs and AAPI issues (such as appointing an unprecedented number of AAPI cabinet secretaries), it would be a stretch for us to say we've made it in the bare-knuckle world of politics.

Well, 2012 is as good a test of our mettle as any.  We have more legitimately viable candidates running for state and federal office than in any other time in U.S. history.  Whether we make it or break it is entirely up to you.

[Ad: Help elect AAPIs in California, click here]

Monday, March 12, 2012

5 Things AAPIs Can Do To Be Taken Seriously...

There's a lot of anger out there in the AAPI community...either about racist comments and attitudes toward Jeremy Lin, the hazing related deaths of U.S. AAPI servicemen, the splitting of Korean Americans in Los Angeles redistricting, and the disproportionate impact of bullying experienced by AAPI youth, etc.

Unfortunately, there's this huge divide between anger and effecting change.  Pointing out the problem and expressing outrage is just the tip of the iceberg.  You don't get justice by crying foul.  Other communities (Latino, Black, LGBT) have figured it out...if AAPIs really want to right these wrongs, here are 5 things they can do...

1) Establish political action committees (PAC) that can make "real" donations to candidates.  Outside of contribution limits, any donation south of $500 doesn't even register in the world of politics.  Grown-up donations start north of $1,000.  If your PAC can't swing at least $1K in ante, don't expect any politician to give you anything more than lip service and a patronizing pat on the back.  But starting a PAC is hard, right?  "We don't have the money, etc."  Really?  AAPIs spend over $500 billion annually in consumer products and services.  AAPIs are near the top in annual income.  Crying poor just means that true political power is not a priority for AAPIs.

2) Register to vote.  Political consultants and politicians have access to unbelievable data.  When AAPIs tout their raw population numbers or Citizen Voting Age Population numbers, the consultants have a good laugh.  It doesn't matter how many AAPIs are eligible to only matters how many AAPIs are actually registered to vote and actually vote.  When I develop a strategy for a candidate, the first number I look at is how many frequent voters are in my target universe.  These are the voters that vote every election.  If things are grim, I may look at trying to get occasional voters to the polls.  I NEVER look at how many people are eligible to vote and not registered yet.  Most of the time, there simply is not enough time or money to do a decent job at registering voters.

3) Volunteer for a campaign.  This means knock on doors or make phone calls.  Licking envelopes, Facebooking, tweeting, and other passive campaign activities do not help that much.  Politicians will only take you seriously if you can turn out volunteers that are willing to do the tough tasks - walk precincts or make phone calls.  The science behind campaigns show that aggressive direct voter contact is critical to winning elections.  If you don't win, you don't get a voice in the halls of power.  Plain & simple.

4) Learn how to run a campaign.  Politics is half art form and half science.  You don't get to be strategist by watching seven seasons of the West Wing or a summer internship in a legislative office.  Work on a campaign and use it as an opportunity to learn how field campaigns are run, how to raise money, how to maintain message discipline, and how to organize.  In an era of growing viable AAPI candidates, the number of AAPI political operatives are still anemic.  If the AAPI community really wants to make their issues a top priority, then AAPIs need to earn their spot among the nation's political kingmakers.

5) Master media relations.  The news cycle is now 24-7 and the channels of information are almost limitless.  Dealing with issue advocacy relies heavily on message management.  Those who are skilled at crafting message and maintaining message discipline across platforms will prevail.  If you don't have the experience, then hire someone that does to represent you.  Media relations skills are not something you pick up over a weekend seminar.  It requires a lot of work and the rules of engagement are changing every day.  Either commit yourself to mastering the craft or hiring someone that is a master of the craft.

Extended filing leaves some seats still up in the air

Because of redistricting, a number of newly numbered districts do not have incumbents running for re-election.  As a result, election law provides that the filing deadline to run for office in these seats are extended until 5 pm on Wednesday, March 14.

A number of AAPIs are running in these seats, and the extra days for filing allows for additional candidates/opponents that could make what would have been a clear field into a competitive primary.

California seats that have filing extended until Wednesday, click here.

This means there is time for additional candidates to jump into a number of races where AAPIs are running, like Congressional District 21 where Fresno City Councilman Blong Xiong is running and Assembly District 19 where Phil Ting is running.

Another AAPI announces run for Congress

This ran in the Capitol Morning Report today.

Mathews is of South Asian descent.  Peter Mathews has spent 30 years as a College and University Professor educating people. Born into a family of educators, his father was a university professor and clinical psychologist, and his mother, a teacher.

He'll be taking on veteran pol State Senator Alan Lowenthal.

Here is Mathew's campaign website:

Friday, March 9, 2012

GOP Strategist Says There's No Way Asians Can Win

Fresno City Councilman Blong Xiong announced his candidacy for Congress today.  He is running in CA 21 where Obama won 52-46, Jerry Brown won 47-44, and John Chiang won 50-38...Xiong would be the first Hmong American elected to Congress if he makes it to November and wins.

GOP strategist Max Rexroad tweeted this upon the news:

He also refers to Dr. Ami Bera who is running against GOP Rep. Dan Lungren in CA 7 that is now 39% Dem, 39% GOP and 18% DTS.

AAPIs Divided and Conquered in Los Angeles?

Why are the Korean Americans so pissed off about Los Angeles City redistricting?

If you look at the data, it becomes painfully clear why there has not been an AAPI on Los Angeles City Council since Mike Woo in the late 80s.

There is no LA City Council District with over 15% API voters.  Citywide, the ethnic VOTER breakdown is as follows:

       AAPI=7%  Latino=27%  AfAm=10%

Raw POPULATION breakdown according to  the 2010 Census is as follows:

       AAPI=11.3%  Latino=48.5%  AfAm=9.6%

Percentage on Council

       AAPI=0%  Latino=33%  AfAm=20%

There are 6 districts with a larger % of AAPIs than citywide %, averaging 4% above their citywide % (there are 0 API members on council)

There are 6 districts with a larger % of Latinos than the citywide %, averaging 22% above their citywide % (there are 5 Latino API members on council)

There are 4 districts with a larger % of African Americans than citywide %, averaging 30% above their citywide % (there are 3 African American members on council)

So basically, it appears that from a district perspective, APIs have been spread out into all of the other districts making it very difficult for an API to win a seat on contrast, there are a number of districts with Latino and African American voting blocs that are disproportionately larger than their citywide percentage and thus providing them with a better chance of winning representation on

Who decides what the districts are?  Los Angeles City Council.  So you have a Catch-22 situation where there aren't enough AAPIs in a district to elect an AAPI that will fight for a district that unites enough AAPIs into one district that can then elect an AAPI to council.

Does it surprise anyone why the Korean American community is so upset?

The only real surprise is what appears to be a disengagement or disinterest of other AAPI advocacy groups in this fight...